14 August 2010

aBoUt TimE...


it's about time I post something about my time in USA... I already came back 4 weeks ago, but I had so many little (and big) things to do here at the land that I was not so enthusiastic to be at the computer... It's also not so encouraging when we have between 35º and 40º ... really really hot... so, If I'm not working, I'm swimming :-)...
But anyway, I would really like to share some of my thoughts about the time at the camp... first because it's always a good way for me to process it all, and then because I would like to share it ...
of course this would be simply my personal experience...if you're interested in more you can also read great entries by Audrey on the camp's blog... click here ...
I chose this picture to start with (it was actually a post card Marcia gave me from Chiapas-Mexico), because that is the picture I have of this camp... building bridges, where once there were walls...





Bridges between individuals, bridges between cultures, bridges between "races", bridges between religions, bridges between nations, bridges between gender... the list can go on...
Acknowledging, affirming and respecting both ends of the bridge ...
It was for me personally a place to meet beautiful, wonderful people...a place to build relationships...
Of course I limited myself to a few closer relationships... considering my personality it would be impossible to get to know properly so many people in such a short time... even though I would love if I had more time for that, because they all seemed very interesting people...about 27 staff members and 70 participants... As I said on my last post, these were from 4 different regions: Northern Ireland, South Africa, Jerusalem (Israelis and Palestinians) and USA.
I felt more as an observant (it was odd enough that I was Portuguese and had nothing personal to do with any of those regions), and even though I couldn't meet them all, I definitely could learn something of each one...
I was not directly involved with many participants cuz I was not given any particular responsibility that would allow me to do so... I mainly set up a prayer space, named "the sacred space", for anyone to use at any time... a place where Muslims, Jewish, Christians and people with other belief systems could use to be with "The Sacred"... and I was also involved in the "inter-faith dialogue groups" (I enjoyed that pretty much)...
Apart from that, I was pretty much being myself :-)...It was a bit of a struggle for me I have to say... I applied for the program and I was accepted, and of course I was invited by Emma who is the leader of the Northern Ireland group... I knew she needed my support there as the situation with her father's health is still very delicate... But why was I there was my question...
It was interesting for me to notice that usually I'm the one telling people that is all about BEING ourselves and not about DOING...but in this case, because I was "hired" for this camp, I felt I was not "doing" enough...
The first week was the staff training when we went through most of the activities the participants would do the following 2 weeks... One of the first mornings I was having my time alone praying and I asked that same question to God: Why am I here?
I sensed a still and quiet voice saying : "It's about me and you."... For some reason I burst into tears... I was thankful, and I guess only now I'm understanding those words... in the end I realized that it was really about BEING me, and being reminded of that...me with God :-)
For me this was a time to "rest" in many ways... again, a bit weird, considering this was a very intensive camp... I did help here and there, and it was exhausting at times...the day was always full... but still, I didn't feel I had responsibilities, and this was the rest I needed for a really long time... I could have my mind free of the many thoughts I usually have here at the land, and I could be more focused in God and the people God gave me the privilege to meet here...
But coming back to the camp... I was impressed with the way it runs, even though for my personality it was too much and too fast...but it seems to work that way :-)...
I'm really grateful to get to meet Manar (who carries the vision and runs it all), an amazing woman of faith and a strong pioneering spirit...and of course her other half and constant support Ramsi... what a sweet guy and great servant...he was always available, even when he was on the edge of his limits ... I'm pretty sure our paths will cross again... I just love them...they are just those kind of persons that I'm sure it was not just a "coincidence" to meet them... I learned a lot with both of them and I had great chats about all sorts of things... Ramsi was also the guy behind the scenes, doing all the administration stuff together with Daniel... poor guys, they went through a lot... but they managed so well...
Daniel was another precious gift of this camp for me... another person that I'm sure I will see again... I have nice memories of good chats with him in the midst of the stress of the camp...or in New York, for the last days, before our departure and also the start of his new season in a new State and a new job...
This picture was after the camp, on his birthday pick-nick... few of us went to the Governor's Island in NY ... nice trip , and the ferry was for free...very handy :-)...it was also the same day me and Emma would take the plain to come back to Portugal and had to say good-bye to everyone...
Ohhh, I miss them ...
Alex was another person I cannot forget... I have such lovely memories, and she has such a funny humor... We'll definitely meet again, if not here in Portugal, there...she is the leader of the Jerusalem group together with Maisa, which was another lovely character to meet...

(from the left to the right: Emma, Maisa,myself, Manar and Alex... this was the last day,so we probably look a bit over tired)

I got closer to these ones cuz we were sharing rooms in the same house... Ramsi and Daniel would often pop by anytime... we shared lovely times after the camp's schedule just hanging out on the porch and having nice chats...sometimes "heavy" chats about what's going on at the camp... it was our "cabin time" :-), this was a term used to refer to the last activity of the participants each day... they were all sleeping in different cabins, with 2 staff members... so we would have our own "cabin time"...
Steve, the homegroup leader of South Africa, would also join us... what an amazing guy as well... such a heart for the participants and such a good leader... another great servant... he would always bring so much joy as well... It's a bit far, but I would really like to visit him in South Africa one day...

But besides our "cabin group", I also had the privilege to know a bit more some other staff... Ruven was a real encouragement and I was really touched by his humble heart and passion for God...he's usually called Rabbi Barkan, but he just wanted to be Ruven here :-)... we had really good and meaningful conversations, sharing each others' spiritual journeys, reading the Bible, and sharing about life in general... he really liked the prayer room and I do hope he manages to set up one in the school he teaches in.

here on the right, with Tareq on the left holding one of the kids of their "cabin"- Mark , a really nice kid from South Africa...I also had great times and chats with him...
Tareq was another one I got to spend more time with...
Actually, this was a very touching relationship for me to observe... between Ruven, a jewish american Rabbi and Tareq, a palestinian Muslim... In the end of the camp, Ruven shared how much he learned with his brother Tareq and how much this relationship meant to him... Tareq was also staying few more days after the camp and Ruven invited him to his house and his synagogue for the Sabbath meeting... This is a small part of what the camp was about...

Ethan, here in his "Non-violent communication" workshop (the best workshop, for me personally)...a real sweet and peaceful heart...he's so gifted in so many things, but what I most admired was the way he so clearly communicated ...I wish I could have had more time with him, but he was often busy...and he would sleep early (wise as well), so , no "cabin time", :-)...

Kieran, a funny, but very "deep" guy... I met him briefly before in his parents house in Dublin...he grew up in Africa, he lived in Ireland with his parents and he's now finishing his studies in Spain... very talented musician, very political, very goofy , but also very loving... he would always have something to say, and often a different perspective... he definitely like a good dialogue... I have a feelings we'll meet again somewhere in the world...

All the other staff I get to meet a bit during the first week, and occasional times during the 2 weeks of the camp, but as I said, there was no time for all (unfortunately), but I would like to leave here my thanks to all, the way each one touched me somehow during this time... Farah, J.C., Jo, Steff, Jill, David, Liz, Audrey, Hiba and Jade, Anya, Daniel MacShane, Robin, Brandon... there were 2 staff members who came with the kids only on the second week that I didn't had the chance to know as all the others... it was Jackson (who I actually met before in Belfast...I know his mom better) and another girl from South Africa (that I totally forgot her name...shame!!! but not her face)...
There was also some of the kids that I had the priviledge to get to know a bit... Mark (I mentioned before), Max, Riham, Yousef, Talya, Yusra, Catherine, Omer and Josh...

O.K, I leave now with some pictures with small comments... sorry if it became such a long post, but I could have shared even more...


staff training... each region had to present their historical time-line... here, the Israel/Palestine group... it often brings tension ...they actually have two sides of the same history...

USA staff group...

South African representative... Steve!!! here he incorporated his own personal story with the SA history... the participants made a really cool presentation as well...

Chill out times... the place was amazing by the way... just forests, big lakes, wild dears and turkeys...cheap-monks(not sure if you spell it like that), and other wild life... I wouldn't have had that idea of New York State...
stunning combination of flower and mushroom... I found in the woods and took to the "Sacred place" in a pot...

art in the "Sacred space"


Prayer space

Muslim presentation by the participants... (I had a really nice little video, but it was too long to upload here)...it was really beautiful...

Open questions after presentation...

Jewish presentation...Sabbath Shalom !!! They explained some things about their faith and then presented some of the rituals in their Sabbath celebration... I really like it!!!

Christian presentation... they also explained different aspects of christianity, like rituals, prayer, caring fo rthe poor, justice, etc..and then they sang this worship song...

The LIT's (Leaders In Training) and Daniel MacShane who stayed alone with them... I really admired him for that...specially because he didn't know the program himself...but the person that was supposed to be with the LIT's together with him said she/he couldn't come one week before the camp would start... but Daniel did an amazing job !!! really !!!

Masks...one of the many cool activities...they would make this masks with their own face, then they would have to pain the inside (how they would see themselves) and the outside (how do others see you)...

"Paper Bags"... a very strong activity they make...they have to go around the room in silence where words like this one are written ...then they have to write down on a piece of paper the first thing that comes to their minds as soon as they read the word, and then drop it on a paper bag... they are asked to be as honest as possible...and of course, it's all anonymous...later , the staff writes down all the words in big sheets of paper like this one, and they have to go around again in silence and read what all the others wrote...
It can be very disturbing, specially when they are personal things, and of course, after it they go into their dialogue groups... all the activities are processed either in dialogue groups or cabin groups... and there's where the real struggles are dealt with... it's amazing how much this kids change after 2 weeks...

Gardening time...Yehhhh... I was happy !!! we had a day where we served the camp garden and also another local farm that provides the food for the camp...speaking about that...I never ate such good food in a camp... the cook , Boby, was amazing... vegetarian food (except for some barbecues we had outside), and all local and fresh

The guy who kinda guide us through the planting also spoke to the kids about the importance of producing and consuming locally and organically... I found that great !!! Definitely a high-light for me :-)... or I wouldn't be a farmer :-) eh, eh...

Just before the start of our night of silence (in which I also helped a bit) ...

the last day talent show... soooooo many talents...honestly !!!


Many tears and good-byes...then we all see the first fruits of the program...

all differences are easily overcome then... they are ready to love those they never thought they could...

nice picture..one of our last chats at the camp (me , Emma and Daniel)...at the peace garden, and probably one of their first meeting places for prayer...

chilling out and playing funny games at the hostel we stayed with the staff in New York city...just after the end of the camp...we're all exhausted...and now time for more good-byes...

Jade and Hiba...at the pick-nick of Daniel's Birthday... they are so sweet... he's more quiet (maybe like me), but she's definitely not...they're great !! I wish I can meet them some other time... Maybe in Jerusalem...

Manar and Ramsi...finally rested !!!
I'm grateful to all , for providing this experience...
Looking forward for later connections :-)

PEACE
SALAAM
SHALOM
PAZ

2 comments:

gaffycowan said...

This captures camp in a lovely snapshot. It was a super experience and I was glad to share it with you and all the others you mentioned.

Kathleen said...

Oi,
nos somos Mirjam e Kathleen. Somos da Alemanha. Fazendos ferias em portugal. Um amigo (Jimmy) me contou sobre sua communidade. Nos estamos pensandos em visitar voces em algumas dias. Estamos no porto no momento. Tem a possibilidade de chagar ai sem carro?
Por favour manda algum mensagem. (kathleen_schaf@freenet.de)
muiti obrigada!
Deus te abencoe